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Richards, A.K. (1998). Woman as Medusa in Basic Instinct. Psychoanal. Inq., 18(2):269-280.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18(2):269-280

Woman as Medusa in Basic Instinct

Arlene Kramer Richards, Ed.D

The gorgon medusa is a goddess of ancient origin and long duration. According to Gimbutas (1989):

The Gorgon Medusa … can turn men to stone. She is capable of taking the breath away … a potent Goddess dealing with life and death, not the later Indo-European monster to be slain by heroes such as Perseus. she is linked with Artemis. Artemis and Hecate are one, a lunar Goddess of the life cycle with two aspects: one, standing at the beginning of the cycle, the other at the end: one young, pure and beautiful, connected with young life, and the other gruesome, connected with death…. Hekate is described as traveling above graveyards with her hounds, collecting poison and then mixing deadly potions. She is a remorseless killer appeased only by bloody sacrifices. Her eerie howl conveys the presence of death. The Gorgon lived throughout ancient Greece. Her hideous features—lolling tongue, projecting teeth, and writhing snakes for hair—were believed to be protection against the Evil Eye. As a prophylactic mask, the Gorgon was depicted … with snakes emerging horizontally out of her head: she is girdled by two snakes with hissing opposed heads exuding powerful energy [pp. 207-209].

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